Be Prepared: Home Fire Safety Tips

Fire-Ada BeHouse fires.  Nobody wants to think about them, but they are an unfortunate reality in our imperfect world.  While a house fire can be unpredictable there are precautionary measures you can take to avoid them.  Being prepared is half the battle, but knowing what to do in the event of a fire is equally important.

Part of being prepared is having the proper equipment and warning devices.  This means having operating smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, a fire alarm, and sometimes a sprinkler system.  Most single family homes are not required by law to have a sprinkler or fire suppression system, but that may not last as the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is currently pushing for sprinkler legislation across the United States.  As a leading expert in the security system industry our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. realize having a truly comprehensive home security system means including fire detection equipment that is linked to an alarm system.  We have been providing home security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our team understands that security is not solely about preventing break-ins, it’s about protecting lives.

Being Prepared

According to the NFPA firefighters responded to 370,000 home fires in 2011.  These fires caused injuries, deaths, and costly damages.  The main culprits of these fires were cooking followed by heating equipment and smoking.  Of the reported home fire related deaths between 2007 and 2011, 60% of the homes either didn’t have smoke detectors or had non-working detectors.  This is a problem, what good is a detector if it’s not working or been removed?

The best way to manage a household fire is be prepared for one.  Being prepared includes having the proper warning system, up to date fire extinguishers, and most importantly an escape plan.  Having an escape plan that everyone knows and has practiced will help ensure a safer and quicker exit in the event of a fire.  Every house should have working smoke detectors throughout each floor of the home and they should be tested regularly.  Smoke detectors can be even more effective if they are tied into your homes security system.  If you have a home security system you likely have a monitoring service that responds in the event of an emergency.  In the event of a fire, detectors that are tied into an alarm system will trigger the alarm and if the alarm is not deactivated by the owner, the monitoring service will be notified automatically.  The monitoring service will try to contact the house and if no one answers after a given amount of time they will dispatch local emergency crews.  This type of system ensures a quicker response from local authorities and saves you and your family precious time needed to escape.

Fire Types

Understanding the different types of house fires can help you prevent or know how to extinguish them.  One of the most common causes of house fires is from cooking related incidents.  According to the NFPA two out of every five home fires started in the kitchen.  In a way this makes a lot of sense.  Think about it, kitchens are where you cook with high heat, ovens, gas or electric ranges, grease, and flammable materials.  It is of the utmost importance to be vigilant of what is going on in your kitchen.  If you have pots on the stove, do not leave them unattended the same for items in the oven.  Never leave flammable or combustible materials where they can be exposed to flames or high heat.

Electrical fires are another leading cause of house fires.  Homes with electrical heating need to be conscious of what materials are up against or close to heaters, all it takes is one dangling curtain to catch fire.  This is especially true for people who use space heaters.  It’s tempting to bring that space heater right up to your bed on those cold winter nights, but they need to be kept a safe distance, which is about 3 feet, from anything combustible and that includes bed sheets.  Space heaters should always be unplugged when not in use to avoid any electrical malfunctions and they should never be left on overnight.  Other culprits of electrical fires include dryers, washing machines, water heaters, air conditioning machines, and ranges.

Fires related to smoking incidents are another major cause of injury and fire related deaths in the United States.  Although the amount of people who smoke in the United States has decreased in the past decade the fact remains between 2007 and 2011 smoking materials were responsible for approximately 17,900 house fires.  During this time period 580 deaths, 1,280 injuries, and $509 million in property damage per year was attributed to smoking related fires.  Many of these fires included falling asleep as a factor.  It’s devastating that such disaster has taken place when this type of fire is completely preventable by not smoking.

While you can’t always predict or prevent house fires from occurring you can be prepared for them.  And even though the first thing you should always do in the event of a fire is call 911 here’s a helpful link that describes how to extinguish different types of house fires Different Ways To Extinguish Different Fires.  Having a comprehensive security system that includes a monitored fire alarm and connected smoke detectors can significantly decrease the damaging effects of a house fire.  It can save you time, money, and most importantly lives.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We want to help you connect and protect what matters most.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Ada Be-Flickr-Creative Commons

Complete Security Systems

CCTV-Wikipedia ImageIn an unpredictable world, one thing is certain, we all want to protect what’s ours.  Whether you’re a business owner or a homeowner, you want to keep safe that which you’ve worked so hard for.  One of the most effective ways to do that is to install a security system.  Well, what exactly is a security system and what makes it a complete security system? Security can be defined as, “the state of being protected or safe from harm,” and system can be defined as, “a group of related parts that move or work together.”  A security system is an assemblage of equipment that helps prevent imminent danger or damage.

As a licensed security systems provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been helping protect homes and businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe that complete security systems should not only be a group of working parts, but that it should be comprehensive.  Comprehensive can be defined as, “complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.”  After decades of installing security equipment we’ve found that a truly comprehensive security system should include some form of access control, fire and burglar alarms, surveillance, and a monitoring service.

Access control is the means by which you limit admission to a specific point of entry.  It’s essentially your first line of defense against unauthorized entrants.  Probably the most conventional form of access control is a standard lock and key.  Today, the lock and key method is either being eliminated or used as a backup to more technologically advanced controls.  Traditional keys when lost or stolen can be easily replicated whereas using readers, fobs (tokens), and sometimes biometrics in combination with a password are more concrete and less susceptible to duplication.

Card and proximity readers are typically placed next to a point of entry and a fob or card that is programmed with the appropriate credentials is used.  The card or fob is either tapped or swiped on or near the reader to gain access. The benefit to using a swipe card or fob is if they are lost or stolen they can be deactivated in the operating system whereas you can’t deactivate a physical key unless you change out the entire lock.  Biometrics, which uses physical credentials like a fingerprint, is similar in the sense that access information isn’t as easily stolen or duplicated.  This type of access control isn’t as widely used today because they tend to be more complex and costly.  However, as technology progresses we may see a rise in biometric applications.

Fire and burglar alarms are critical alerts in potentially life-threatening situations.  Fire and burglary can strike at any given time without warning, wreaking havoc on your business or home.  With burglary occurring every 14.6 seconds and national fire departments responding to an estimated 1,240,000 fires a year (2013), it’s critical to the safety and security of any home or business to implement preventative measures.  Physical structural damage and property loss incurred by a fire or burglary is only part of the aftermath, the emotional and psychological damage is even harder to repair.

In conjunction with burglar alarms and access control, surveillance is essential.  When installed correctly surveillance equipment is not only a helpful crime deterrent, but a useful tool in solving crime.  In the wake of IP (Internet Protocol) and wireless technology, surveillance equipment is no longer limited to hardwired installations.  This increases scalability, flexibility, and ease of installation.  It also helps reduce the cost of installation by not having to pull as much cabling through walls.  Another benefit to having a surveillance system is the potential capability to access footage remotely.  With a plethora of mobile apps at your disposal, you can access your surveillance system to see what is going on at your facility or home when you can’t be there.  Being able to remotely access your security cameras adds a layer of monitoring and convenience that, up until recently, wasn’t widely used or available.

Lastly to complete the effectiveness of a security system you should have an alarm monitoring service.  Without a monitoring service who is going to respond to an active alarm?  If you’re lucky someone nearby will call the authorities, that’s assuming someone is actually near your facility or residence when the alarm goes off.  An alarm monitor can help save you, your family, or your business from potential disaster by decreasing the response time from local authorities and emergency responders.  When an alarm is triggered the monitoring station is instantly notified; they typically try to contact you first, and if they don’t get a response within a given amount of time authorities and emergency crews are dispatched.  This is a particularly beneficial service in the event that you’re out of town or unable to respond in an emergency.  Having an alarm monitoring service can mean the difference between catastrophe and a manageable situation.

A security system is so much more than the equipment that comprises it.  It helps provide protection and life safety in a volatile world. Remember, a system is only as effective as the parts that comprise it.  For a security system to be comprehensive it should include fire and burglar alarms, access control, surveillance, and a monitoring service, at least.  As a security systems expert, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to homes and businesses in northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We understand the importance of mitigating the unpredictable and what it takes to do so.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by KRoock74-Google-Creative Commons

Security’s Role in Property Management

Commercial BuildingAs a property manager you have a lot of people that depend on the safety and security of the real estate you oversee.  Whether or not you own the properties you rent, or work with a landlord in managing their properties, a bulk of the responsibility lies on your shoulders.  Your main goal is to attract responsible patrons, keep them, and build your brand.  How can you do that if the property you oversee is publicly perceived to be too risky or unsafe?  That’s the problem, if there has been an incident at a property that you own the public tends to remember and will likely steer clear of that address.

This negative reaction can be limited by implementing preventative security measures that meet the needs of your tenants and the risks associated with the surrounding area.  One of the best preventative measures you can take as a property manager is to incorporate a comprehensive security system in combination with defined property protocols.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators provide comprehensive security system solutions that suit your specific needs.  We have been installing security systems in facilities and residences throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our team recognizes the challenges property managers face dealing with multiple properties both commercial and residential.  We specialize in comprehensive security systems that include fire and burglar alarms, access control solutions, video surveillance, and system monitoring.

Trying to determine what type of security system is necessary for a specific property can be difficult that’s why it is important to involve a security professional from the start.  This is especially true for new construction projects.  Involving a security integrator from the start will ensure you are getting the coverage you need and create a seamless installation process.

One of the first and most important procedures to tackle is a risk assessment.  A risk assessment should include a licensed security systems integrator and it should be performed as early on as possible.  This will help determine where your greatest security threats are and how best to tackle them.  The next step would be to design a custom security system that helps combat those threats.

While every security system application will be different dependent on the location there are some key components that will benefit most buildings.  Video surveillance is a major security feature that is essential to any comprehensive system.  The mere presence of a camera system is sometimes enough to deter potential criminals.  It helps keep an eye on your property even when you can’t be there, it also gives your tenants a peace of mind knowing their public spaces are being looked after.

Access control is another important piece of the security system pie.  It helps limit who and how people can gain entry and sometimes exit.  Access control can be implemented in a number of ways.  Often times a credential is issued to the approved users and they typically come in the form of a swipe card, a fob, or a proximity card.  These credentials are used in conjunction with an electronic reader installed by the desired entry point.  Using access control credentials instead of traditional keys helps prevent lost or stolen items from being duplicated.  A similar type of idea can be used with parking lots and garages as well.

Fire and burglar alarms in combination with access control, video surveillance, and an alarm monitoring service make for a comprehensive security system.  A security systems integrator helps ensure your fire alarm is installed and operates according to national and local codes.  Having an alarm monitoring service will help alert you and the proper authorities at the first sign of a disturbance.  With today’s technology there’s the potential to remotely monitor what is going on at your facilities through an app on your smartphone.  Mobile apps typically have the capability to send you notifications if an alarm is triggered, or you can customize the type of notifications you want to receive.  This could be particularly beneficial if you own multiple properties in different areas.  A security system is meant to be a purveyor of safety and convenience.  It helps protect your property investments and your patrons.

There is no “one-stop” security solution for any facility or residence.  That is why it is imperative to involve a security systems integrator, they will assess the risks associated with your particular facility and design a system that suits your specific needs. As a property manager you have people that depend on you to maintain the facilities they utilize, and security should be a factor in that maintenance.  Even if installing a security system isn’t your decision to make, it’s worth bringing up to whomever would make that choice.  Having a comprehensive security system can be a good selling point to your clients and a way to keep them.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We understand the value a security system can add to a facility and the sense of safety it instills in those it is meant to protect.

If you live, run a business, or manage properties in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Ines Hegedus-Garcia-Flickr-Creative Commons

What’s The Difference Between Conventional & Addressable Fire Alarms?

Fire Alarm-shlala-FlickrAs with anything in the security systems industry, prevention is vital.  Preventing catastrophic loss is a top priority and one of the most crucial security system components that helps avoid such situations is the fire alarm system.  This is a no brainer, but there is some disparity between what type of fire alarm system is best.  In the alarm industry there are basically two types of fire alarm installations, conventional and addressable (or analog addressable).  As always, every situation and application is different therefore claiming one system is superior to the other may not be the right approach.  However, it is important to understand the difference between systems and why one might be used over the other.

Regardless of the type of system installed, all have to meet the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes, local regulations, and the Life Safety Code enforced by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).  All commercial buildings are required to have a code compliant fire alarm system, the best way to ensure proper installation is to hire a licensed integrator with knowledge and experience.  Our licensed experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing comprehensive security system solutions, including fire alarms, to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We stay updated on current technologies and how they may benefit our customers, implementing solutions that fit individualized needs.  It’s also part of our mission to help our clients gain a better understanding of the systems that we install.

To understand the difference between an addressable fire alarm system and a conventional one you must first understand what a fire alarm system is.  In general a fire alarm system is a group of visual and audio devices (automatic and/or manual)-i.e. smoke detectors, heat sensors, strobes, alarm pulls, and sprinklers-linked to a main fire panel that sends a signal to local emergency responders when an alarm is activated.  Each device has to be linked to the main fire panel, but there are different methods of doing so.  This is where the big difference between addressable and conventional comes into play.

fire alarm system diagramAddressable fire alarms indicates that each installed device or module is connected to the main fire panel in a “loop” often by means of a singular wire.  Conventional alarm systems require individual wires per each device, again connecting back to the main fire panel.  The most obvious difference between the two, in terms of installation, is cabling requirements and labor costs.  Due to the fact that addressable systems require less cabling they make for less complex installations.  That’s not to say there aren’t situations where a conventional system might make more sense.  Although it seems most new construction projects implement addressable systems.

One of the many benefits of an addressable fire alarm system is that each device is given its own unique address.  In the event of a triggered alarm a single device can be pinpointed which gives responders a more concise location as to where a fire might be occurring.  This helps save precious time and improves life safety.  It’s also helpful in the event a device is malfunctioning or requires maintenance.  According to Jim Kimpel, product manager for Fire Control Instruments, Inc., being able to pinpoint specific devices lessens the hesitation an end-user might have-mostly caused by the fear of costs-when making a service call.  This helps prevent unnecessary losses due to a defunct system.

As with any alarm system, routine inspections are required for addressable fire alarm systems.  According to Brandt Phillips, Commercial Fire & Security Director of Sales for Napco Security Technologies Inc., inspections and system testing are made easier with addressable systems.  He says installing an addressable system, “…eliminates the need for expensive testers, excessive labor for testing, and gives you the ability to automatically generate the same reports directly from the software you used to program the panel…”  In comparison Phillips points out that inspections for conventional systems can cost thousands and be quite lengthy.

While conventional systems may require extensive wiring, intensive testing, a higher labor cost, and are being phased out by addressable alarms, they’re not completely disregarded when it comes to installations.  The size of a project may determine what type of system is a better fit.  It seems that for small jobs, i.e. a single story office building, conventional systems may work just fine.  They’re initial upfront costs are fairly low and if you’re not dealing with multiple floors and zones it may not be necessary to implement an addressable system.  However, the appeal of quick installs, concise reporting of fire occurrences, and the ease of inspection and system testing will continue to draw support for addressable systems; it seems to be the trend in most new construction projects.

With fire and life safety codes continually evolving, in tandem with developing technologies, there’s no telling what advancements will emerge next.  For now, streamlining processes and incorporating intelligent components will continue to help shape the fire alarm systems of today.  Our licensed experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. are committed to providing security systems that enhance life safety and help prevent disasters.  We have been installing comprehensive security system solutions, including fire alarms, to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Don’t wait for the unpredictable to happen, let us help you protect what matters most.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image #1 by shlala-Flickr-Creative Commons, Image #2 by fire-magazine.com

What Makes A Security System A System?

CCTV-Wikipedia ImageIn an unpredictable world, one thing is certain, we all want to protect what’s ours.  Whether you’re a business owner or a homeowner, you want to keep safe that which you’ve worked so hard for.  One of the most effective ways to do that is to install a security system.  Well, what exactly is a security system and what makes it a system? Security can be defined as, “the state of being protected or safe from harm,” and system can be defined as, “a group of related parts that move or work together.”  A security system is an assemblage of equipment that helps prevent imminent danger or damage.

As a licensed security systems provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been helping protect homes and businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe that a security system should not only be a group of working parts, but that it should be comprehensive.  Comprehensive can be defined as, “complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.”  After decades of installing security equipment we’ve found that a truly comprehensive security system should include some form of access control, fire and burglar alarms, surveillance, and a monitoring service.

Access control is the means by which you limit admission to a specific point of entry.  It’s essentially your first line of defense against unauthorized entrants.  Probably the most conventional form of access control is a standard lock and key.  Today, the lock and key method is either being eliminated or used as a backup to more technologically advanced controls.  Traditional keys when lost or stolen can be easily replicated whereas using readers, fobs (tokens), and sometimes biometrics in combination with a password are more concrete and less susceptible to duplication.

Card and proximity readers are typically placed next to a point of entry and a fob or card that is programmed with the appropriate credentials is used.  The card or fob is either tapped or swiped on or near the reader to gain access. The benefit to using a swipe card or fob is if they are lost or stolen they can be deactivated in the operating system whereas you can’t deactivate a physical key unless you change out the entire lock.  Biometrics, which uses physical credentials like a fingerprint, is similar in the sense that access information isn’t as easily stolen or duplicated.  This type of access control isn’t as widely used today because they tend to be more complex and costly.  However, as technology progresses we may see a rise in biometric applications.

Fire and burglar alarms are critical alerts in potentially life-threatening situations.  Fire and burglary can strike at any given time without warning, wreaking havoc on your business or home.  With burglary occurring every 14.6 seconds and national fire departments responding to an estimated 1,240,000 fires a year (2013), it’s critical to the safety and security of any home or business to implement preventative measures.  Physical structural damage and property loss incurred by a fire or burglary is only part of the aftermath, the emotional and psychological damage is even harder to repair.

In conjunction with burglar alarms and access control, surveillance is essential.  When installed correctly surveillance equipment is not only a helpful crime deterrent, but a useful tool in solving crime.  In the wake of IP (Internet Protocol) and wireless technology, surveillance equipment is no longer limited to hardwired installations.  This increases scalability, flexibility, and ease of installation.  It also helps reduce the cost of installation by not having to pull as much cabling through walls.  Another benefit to having a surveillance system is the potential capability to access footage remotely.  With a plethora of mobile apps at your disposal, you can access your surveillance system to see what is going on at your facility or home when you can’t be there.  Being able to remotely access your security cameras adds a layer of monitoring and convenience that, up until recently, wasn’t widely used or available.

Lastly to complete the effectiveness of a security system you should have an alarm monitoring service.  Without a monitoring service who is going to respond to an active alarm?  If you’re lucky someone nearby will call the authorities, that’s assuming someone is actually near your facility or residence when the alarm goes off.  An alarm monitor can help save you, your family, or your business from potential disaster by decreasing the response time from local authorities and emergency responders.  When an alarm is triggered the monitoring station is instantly notified; they typically try to contact you first, and if they don’t get a response within a given amount of time authorities and emergency crews are dispatched.  This is a particularly beneficial service in the event that you’re out of town or unable to respond in an emergency.  Having an alarm monitoring service can mean the difference between catastrophe and a manageable situation.

A security system is so much more than the equipment that comprises it.  It helps provide protection and life safety in a volatile world. Remember, a system is only as effective as the parts that comprise it.  For a security system to be comprehensive it should include fire and burglar alarms, access control, surveillance, and a monitoring service, at least.  As a security systems expert, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to homes and businesses in northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We understand the importance of mitigating the unpredictable and what it takes to do so.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by KRoock74-Google-Creative Commons

What You Need to Know About Fire Alarm Maintenance

Fire Strobe-Alfonso PierantonioFire is an unpredictable force that can wreak havoc on any business.  It is imperative as a business owner, facility manager, or building owner that the proper precautions are in place to help prevent catastrophe.  The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is a leading advocate in fire prevention and safety.  They’ve written numerous codes and standards that have been implemented nationwide.  These standards are designed to help reduce the risk and effects of fire.  In combination with local regulations, NFPA codes and regulations are what system integrators and contractors have to follow in order to pass inspection from local authorities.

While you no doubt have some sort of fire detection and/or suppression system in operation it’s important to maintain it in accordance with national and local requirements.  As a security systems integrator, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been installing fire alarm systems in business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for that past 23 years.  We specialize in comprehensive security systems that include fire alarms as a major component to a fully functioning system.  We do offer maintenance and service contracts helping you preserve a system that will continue to pass annual inspections and work efficiently in the event of a fire.

What goes into fire alarm maintenance?  First off, unless you or your staff is trained and licensed, you must hire a licensed technician.  This will help avoid accidentally setting off any false alarms which can result in substantial fines.  A common starting point, whether the system is fairly new or if you moved into a space with an existing system, is to find out the systems age and maintenance history.  The age of a fire alarm system will help determine whether or not components need to be replaced and what type of maintenance might be required.

According to Mike Lohr, director of service marketing for SimplexGrinnell LP, “Systems between five and ten years old may experience component breakdown caused by harsh, but normal, environmental factors. Voltage fluctuations, temperature, and humidity may cause system failure or nuisance alarm problems.”  He notes that systems between 5-10 and 10-15 years can provide adequate “life-safety” responses, but those within the 10-15 year marks should be watched carefully.  This is even more important if you have a shoddy record of maintenance history as it could have been poorly taken care of in the past.

Aside from knowing the age of your system you have to take any specific regulations the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) might have into consideration.  While the NFPA provides codes and standards for the nation, the AHJ will likely have their own set of rules that are specific to the area they preside.  This means that even if your system meets NFPA standards it may not pass local inspection because of AHJ specifications.  For this reason it is imperative to hire experts that are licensed and educated not only in maintenance specific to your system, but national and local requirements as well.

In most cases fire alarm systems must be inspected at least once a year some may require a more frequent assessment.  It really all depends on the type of business.  During an inspection all components of the system will be tested so if something is not functioning properly, it will likely be taken care of at that time.  Before an inspection you should notify the building occupants as the alarms will be tested and it gets noisy.  Your alarm system company is the one who should contact the alarm monitoring station and local authorities in advance to avoid false emergencies.

Maintaining a functional fire alarm system is key to preventing potential catastrophe.  It helps protect not only the physicality of your business, but everything that goes into running your business, i.e. you, your employees, company records, and equipment.  If you ever consider cutting corners when it comes to fire alarm maintenance carefully consider the extent of what it might cost you if you do.

While as a business owner you may not need to know all the fine details of what goes into fire alarm maintenance, it is important to have a basic understanding of what you can expect when the time comes.  For further information on fire alarm maintenance and inspections check out our related blog post HERE.  If you run a business in northern or central New Jersey do not hesitate to call on our licensed technicians at Perfect Connections, Inc..  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions including fire alarm installation and maintenance since 1992.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Alfonso Pierantonio-Flickr-Creative Commons

Why Alarm Monitoring Is Essential

monitoring centerSo you’ve had home security system installed, everything is connected and ready to be armed.  During the process did you sign up for an alarm monitoring service?  If you didn’t, you’re missing a vital part of a truly comprehensive home security system.  You could be leaving yourself open to risk regardless of your newly installed system.  While having a security system will greatly lessen the risk of a break-in and provide you with a peace of mind, the caveat is what happens if you’re not home when the alarm goes off?  Maybe you have a super vigilant neighbor that would hear the alarm or see a fire blazing, but you shouldn’t rely on that.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our professionals have been providing comprehensive security systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We offer a wide range of services including alarm monitoring.  We believe to have a truly comprehensive security system a monitoring service should be included.

So what is alarm monitoring?  According to Safewise alarm monitoring can be defined as, “quick and detailed communication between your home security system and the central station of your security provider.”  This means when your alarm goes off someone besides yourself will be notified almost instantly.  How does this benefit you and your family?  This allows whoever is one the receiving end of that communication to contact and dispatch the appropriate local authorities and emergency services.  Imagine there’s a fire in your home and you can’t get to a phone or have trouble getting everyone out safely.  If your fire alarm is tied into your alarm system, when it goes off, the monitoring service will immediately dispatch fire and emergency crews.  This saves you, your family, and your home from potential catastrophe by saving precious time.

In any emergency time is a critical factor.  That’s why having a monitoring service is advantageous.  It cuts down on wasting time during a potentially life threatening situation.  Also, while an unmonitored alarm system can be effective in deterring a burglar when the alarm is triggered, consider this.  According to the Electronic Security Association 74% of incomplete burglaries are due to a triggered alarm, but another 26% of burglars say the alarm alone isn’t enough to stop them from completing a robbery.  This is where alarm monitoring plays a crucial role.  If someone breaks-in to your home and isn’t fazed by the sounding alarm or the fact that people might be home this puts you and your family at risk.  Luckily, if you have a monitoring service they’ll be able to quickly dispatch authorities that will hopefully catch the perpetrator.

You’re probably running through a bunch of “what if” scenarios in your head, like what if an intruder breaks-in and forces the owner to disarm the alarm?  Fortunately, with many monitoring services there are options to create distress codes.  These codes when entered into the central control panel will alert the monitoring service that you are in a dangerous situation and they will dispatch help immediately.  Meanwhile the intruder is unaware that you’ve secretly called for help.

With today’s technology there is the option to self-monitor your home.  In our world of smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices we have almost anything we could want at a finger’s touch away.  This includes monitoring your home security system.  With the capability of mobile apps like those offered by companies like Alarm.com you can access your security system from virtually anywhere.  These types of apps can be set up to send you notifications or alerts when something changes at your home.  This capability can be extremely helpful if you’re away on vacation, on a business trip, or away from home for an extended period of time.  You no longer have to worry about coming home to a disaster because you’re able to check-in and be informed ahead of time.  A potential drawback of a self-monitored system by itself is not having immediate action or communication if you aren’t paying attention to your mobile device.  If you’re not around your phone to witness an alert you could miss out on an emergency situation whereas a monitoring service would reach out regardless.

Whether you plan on self-monitoring, hiring a monitoring service, or a combination of both, the important thing is that you have a monitored security system.  It’s another level of defense that will further protect you, your family, and your home.  By having a monitored system in combination with a burglar alarm, fire alarm, and surveillance system you will have a truly comprehensive home security system.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been installing comprehensive security systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We know the value it brings to our clients and their families.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Infra-structures.com-Google-Creative Commons

Putting Out A Fire

Fire-Ada BeHouse fires.  Nobody wants to think about them, but they are an unfortunate reality in our imperfect world.  While a house fire can be unpredictable there are precautionary measures you can take to avoid them.  Being prepared is half the battle, but knowing what to do in the event of a fire is equally important.

Part of being prepared is having the proper equipment and warning devices.  This means having operating smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, a fire alarm, and sometimes a sprinkler system.  Most single family homes are not required by law to have a sprinkler or fire suppression system, but that may not last as the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is currently pushing for sprinkler legislation across the United States.  As a leading expert in the security system industry our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. realize having a truly comprehensive home security system means including fire detection equipment that is linked to an alarm system.  We have been providing home security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our team understands that security is not solely about preventing break-ins, it’s about protecting lives.

Being Prepared

According to the NFPA firefighters responded to 370,000 home fires in 2011.  These fires caused injuries, deaths, and costly damages.  The main culprits of these fires were cooking followed by heating equipment and smoking.  Of the reported home fire related deaths between 2007 and 2011, 60% of the homes either didn’t have smoke detectors or had non-working detectors.  This is a problem, what good is a detector if it’s not working or been removed?

The best way to manage a household fire is be prepared for one.  Being prepared includes having the proper warning system, up to date fire extinguishers, and most importantly an escape plan.  Having an escape plan that everyone knows and has practiced will help ensure a safer and quicker exit in the event of a fire.  Every house should have working smoke detectors throughout each floor of the home and they should be tested regularly.  Smoke detectors can be even more effective if they are tied into your homes security system.  If you have a home security system you likely have a monitoring service that responds in the event of an emergency.  In the event of a fire, detectors that are tied into an alarm system will trigger the alarm and if the alarm is not deactivated by the owner, the monitoring service will be notified automatically.  The monitoring service will try to contact the house and if no one answers after a given amount of time they will dispatch local emergency crews.  This type of system ensures a quicker response from local authorities and saves you and your family precious time needed to escape.

Fire Types

Understanding the different types of house fires can help you prevent or know how to extinguish them.  One of the most common causes of house fires is from cooking related incidents.  According to the NFPA two out of every five home fires started in the kitchen.  In a way this makes a lot of sense.  Think about it, kitchens are where you cook with high heat, ovens, gas or electric ranges, grease, and flammable materials.  It is of the utmost importance to be vigilant of what is going on in your kitchen.  If you have pots on the stove, do not leave them unattended the same for items in the oven.  Never leave flammable or combustible materials where they can be exposed to flames or high heat.

Electrical fires are another leading cause of house fires.  Homes with electrical heating need to be conscious of what materials are up against or close to heaters, all it takes is one dangling curtain to catch fire.  This is especially true for people who use space heaters.  It’s tempting to bring that space heater right up to your bed on those cold winter nights, but they need to be kept a safe distance, which is about 3 feet, from anything combustible and that includes bed sheets.  Space heaters should always be unplugged when not in use to avoid any electrical malfunctions and they should never be left on overnight.  Other culprits of electrical fires include dryers, washing machines, water heaters, air conditioning machines, and ranges.

Fires related to smoking incidents are another major cause of injury and fire related deaths in the United States.  Although the amount of people who smoke in the United States has decreased in the past decade the fact remains between 2007 and 2011 smoking materials were responsible for approximately 17,900 house fires.  During this time period 580 deaths, 1,280 injuries, and $509 million in property damage per year was attributed to smoking related fires.  Many of these fires included falling asleep as a factor.  It’s devastating that such disaster has taken place when this type of fire is completely preventable by not smoking.

While you can’t always predict or prevent house fires from occurring you can be prepared for them.  And even though the first thing you should always do in the event of a fire is call 911 here’s a helpful link that describes how to extinguish different types of house fires Different Ways To Extinguish Different Fires.  Having a comprehensive security system that includes a monitored fire alarm and connected smoke detectors can significantly decrease the damaging effects of a house fire.  It can save you time, money, and most importantly lives.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We want to help you connect and protect what matters most.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Ada Be-Flickr-Creative Commons

NFPA: Are In-home Sprinklers The New Standard?

Fire SprinklerYou’ve probably seen sprinkler heads poking out of the ceilings at your office, a hospital, or other public venue where they are generally a code requirement.  But have you ever seen one in someone’s home?  Odds are probably not.  They are currently not required in private residences, but a new proposed legislation by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) aims to change that.

The Fire Sprinkler Initiative wants to make fire sprinklers a requirement in all new construction single and two family homes.  All homes should already have fire extinguishers and up to date smoke and carbon monoxide detectors so why would sprinklers be necessary?  Let’s find out.  As a security systems provider in central and northern New Jersey for the past 22 years our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands the importance of proper fire safety equipment.  We provide comprehensive home security systems that include the appropriate fire alarms and smoke detectors.

As a society we’ve gone countless years without in-home fire sprinklers, so why the push for it now?  Throughout those countless years, there have been countless incidents of house fires that have resulted in severe injuries, even deaths.  In fact over 85% of all fire deaths in the US have taken place in the home.  Approximately 3000 Americans die every year from house fires.  According to the NFPA, having an in-home sprinkler system along with working smoke detectors cuts the death risk by 80%.  The 2015 edition of the IRC (International Residential Code) requires fire sprinklers to be included in all new home construction.  The ICC (International Code Council) has specified that this requirement will be incorporated gradually over a period of 20 years.

States that have adopted the IRC requirements for one and two family homes are California, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  Many other states have adopted the requirements for townhouses up to three stories.  Sprinkler installation in new construction homes seems like a no-brainer but not all are so eager to jump on the bandwagon.  In fact the NAHB (The National Association of Home Builders) has vehemently been opposing the proposed legislation and IRC requirements since the beginning.  NAHB’s communications director, Calli Schmidt in opposition to mandatory legislation has said, “The only way for sprinkler manufacturers to make money is to focus on mandates. Otherwise, they’re not financially feasible.”  This has been refuted by organizations for the cause pointing the finger right back at the NAHB saying they’re disregarding the safety of civilians and only concerned with selling homes.

This ongoing battle between the NAHB and supporters of the proposed legislation makes it unclear who has the best intentions for the homeowners.  Both sides claim profit as the top reason for opposition or acceptance.  The NAHB of Virginia purported the sprinkler manufacturers “hijacked” the code writing process in 2008 when they paid for travel expenses of numerous firefighters to attend the ICC meeting.  The ICC Appeals Board disputed this stating, “By unanimous vote that there was no material and significant irregularity of process or procedure.”  Sprinkler advocates believe in-home sprinklers would save not only lives but substantial property damage and loss.  According to the Department of Homeland Security deaths by fire in the United States fell over 40 percent once smoke detectors became mandatory back in the 1970s.  The NAHB believes the percent of saving more lives with sprinklers is minimal in comparison to their cost.  NAHB members are not against sprinklers as a voluntary measure, but to require them in all new homes would increase the cost of the homes themselves potentially threatening the health of the real estate market especially in times of economic hardship.

Whether or not the NAHB’s reasons for opposing the sprinkler initiative hold water, one must look at the facts and evaluate the risks.  According to the NFPA fatality rates in homes with sprinklers vs those without is 80 percent less.  Do financial costs outweigh the cost of losing a life/lives?  No tends to be the immediate response, but no matter how many safety features or preventative measures you take, there is no infallible system or guarantee.  That being said, the benefits seem to outweigh the costs.  The same holds true for home security systems.  Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we know there is no perfect system, but we provide security systems that have been proven helpful in preventing catastrophe.  If you reside in northern or central New Jersey and are still relying on antiquated security techniques, don’t hesitate to call on our professionals.  Our experts can provide an in person assessment of your security risks and customize a system that is specific to your individual needs.

Engage in the conversation!  The links below provide further information on the NFPA’s sprinkler initiative.  What do you think about it?  Leave us comments/questions below.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Home Sprinklers Tip Sheet

Home Sprinklers Fast Fact Sheet

Sprinkler Impact Fact Sheet

About Anti-Sprinkler Legislation

Fire Alarm Maintenance

Fire Alarm-Tim GreenAs a business owner you no doubt have a long “to do” list on a daily basis.  Maintaining your fire alarm system is probably not at the very top.  Nonetheless, it is an extremely important issue.  Without a properly maintained fire alarm system, you’re setting yourself-and your business-up for disaster.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. we want to help you gain a better understanding of what is required to maintain a commercial fire alarm system.  This will help you stay on task and focus on what is most important-running your business.  Being informed and prepared is half the battle.  As experts in the field, our licensed professionals have been providing fire alarm and security system solutions to Northern and Central New Jersey businesses for over 20 years.  The following is a list of answered questions that will help clarify some of the concerns you likely have regarding your current system; or if you are considering a brand new fire alarm system.

What is required of the business owner?  Honestly, not a whole lot.  In fact, as an owner you are not allowed to do any of the maintenance work yourself.  This is dictated by the fire codes.

How often does the system have to be inspected, and by whom?  A fire alarm system has to be inspected annually (at least).  Some facilities may have to be inspected quarterly, it really depends on the type of business.  This includes testing all components of the system.  The inspections are performed by a licensed contractor like those from Perfect Connections, Inc..  Once the inspection is completed, and you pass, the contractor passes the inspection report onto the local fire official.

What happens during an inspection?  “It’s loud!”-Patrick Chrustinsky (President of Perfect Connections, Inc.)  The reason an inspection is loud is due to the fact that all components have to be tested which means the actual alarm system has to be set off.

What do you need to know before an inspection, if anything?  You will need to notify the occupants of your building that the system is Brows-Daniela Vladimirovabeing tested.  It is the alarm system company’s responsibility to notify the central monitoring station and local fire department to avoid accidentally dispatching responders.  It’s important to notify the appropriate parties to avoid false alarm fines and furrowed brows.

How are tests recorded and who is responsible for keeping records?  Tests are recorded on an annual inspection form to be filled out by the licensed contractor performing the inspection.  The report is then delivered to the local fire official.  By law the business owner is supposed to keep a copy on their premises as well.

When/should a fire alarm system be updated?  It really depends system to system and case by case.  The backup batteries that come with fire alarm systems typically last 3-5years.  As previously mentioned every component of the system is tested during each inspection, so if something requires attention or needs updating/replacement it will likely be discovered at that time.

What are the benefits of a properly maintained fire alarm system?  To state the obvious, it’ll work properly!  If there is a fire or smoke is present it’ll warn you and send a signal to your central monitoring station, as it’s meant to.  A properly functioning system won’t set off false alarms which can be costly.

Do maintenance requirements differ between monitored and unmonitored systems?  Every system has to be tested and inspected regardless of the type.  That being said, most facilities especially new construction and renovations are no longer installing unmonitored systems.  Unmonitored alarm systems tend to show up in older facilities and in most cases wouldn’t be recommended today.

What is required by law/code?  There is no blanket for requirements.  Every business is categorized under the fire code, and each category has a different set of requirements.  There are separate sets of rules for each type of dwelling and occupancy.  Rules set up by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) must be followed/taken into account as well.  The location of your business will also effect which codes and regulations are applicable.  For example, in New Jersey certain ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) rules and the NJ Barrier Free Subcode have to be taken into account.

What are the requirements specific to businesses in Northern and Central New Jersey?  When you install a fire alarm system you must acquire a permit.  Before a permit can be issued a sealed plan from an architect or engineer must be submitted for approval.  The plan must indicate the details of the whole fire alarm system.  The permit then has to be approved and inspected by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).  The NFPA explains AHJ as follows:

“The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) is that person or office charged with enforcing the Life Safety Code. In many states the AHJ is the state fire marshal who has local inspectors work on his/her behalf. In some cities, fire department fire prevention division personnel fulfill the role of AHJ; sometimes it is the building official. For some occupancies, there is more than one AHJ; each AHJ’s approval must be secured. For example, the authorities having jurisdiction for a hospital might include: state fire marshal; building official; fire department fire prevention officer; state health care licensing agency; The Joint Commission; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); and the facility’s insurance carrier. If you’re unsure who the AHJ is, contact your state fire marshal.”

How can Perfect Connections, Inc. help?  Our licensed professionals know the applicable codes for the areas we service in Northern and Central New Jersey.  We can make recommendations, install appropriate fire alarm systems, provide a monitoring service, and perform the required annual inspections.  If you are a business owner in Northern or Central New Jersey and are in need of a fire alarm system or inspection do not hesitate to call on us at 800-369-3962.  Visit our website for information on all our services at www.perfectconnectionsinc.com.  We’re here to help you protect what matters most.

Image Credits: Image #1 by Tim Green-Flickr-Creative Commons, Image #2 by Daniela Vladimirova-Flickr-Creative Commons